Influential Cavs players are open to trading for Markieff Morris, but the front office is instead looking for a defensive-minded wing player who can effectively shoot spot-up jumpers from long range, as Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group and the Cleveland Plain Dealer hears. Cavs higher-ups want that three-and-D wing to back up Iman Shumpert, concerned that the way Shumpert plays will again leave him injured, just as he was to start the season with a wrist issue that cost him the team’s first 21 games, Haynes reports.
The Suns have made Morris “very available” for a trade, as Marc Stein of ESPN.com wrote last month, amid a losing season, a benching, and a back-and-forth that included a summer trade demand, a media day backtracking, and a suspension for throwing a towel at coach Jeff Hornacek. Cavs players nonetheless think he’d be solid if veteran voices LeBron James, Richard Jefferson and James Jones were in his ear, according to Haynes. However, the Cavs brass is worried Morris would upset team chemistry, Haynes hears. The players also like the idea of adding Morris as insurance behind Kevin Love, Haynes writes. Love, like Shumpert, has had trouble with injuries in the past.
The Cavs have an open roster spot after trading Joe Harris to the Magic this week, a move that helped reduce Cleveland’s massive projected tax bill. The team is nonetheless in line to shell out about $170MM between payroll and taxes, and trading for Morris and his $8MM salary using its $10,522,500 trade exception would send that figure about $25MM higher, putting the Cavs in position to break the record of the 2013/14 Nets, who laid out more than $193MM, for the most money spent in a single season. The alternative would be to send matching salary to Phoenix, but either way, the Suns would likely want assets the Cavs simply don’t have, Haynes posits. The Suns are reportedly looking for young players or draft picks in exchange for Morris, and the Cavs have unloaded many such assets since going into win-now mode upon LeBron’s 2014 return.
Three-and-D wing players are tough to find on the trade market. The Suns have rugged defender P.J. Tucker, a career 35.5% 3-point shooter, but they’ve given no indication that they’re prepared to deal him yet.
Which do you think the Cavs need more, a three-and-D wing or Morris? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.